The VW Bus Westfalia Camper long ago became iconic, but it started out somewhat differently and evolved over the years. I ran across this 1955 Popular Mechanics , which suggests that the Westfalia kit was pretty new that year, although the original “Camper Box” was first available in Germany in 1951.
Here’s the reprint of that article, and a 1955 Westfalia brochure.
The picture in the lower left corner threw me, until I read the caption.
The original Westfalia gear was a removable “Camping Box” which stowed all the beds and other gear, so that it could be removed again. This was particularly logical for Germany, as VW Transporters/Kombis were almost always used for commercial use. The Camping box allowed a fairly quick conversion.
This 1955 Westfalia brochure cover both the original “Standard” Camping Box as well as a new and different “Export” conversion, which was essentially a full-time conversion, and clearly targeted to the US, where folks were much more likely to be able to afford a recreational vehicle like this.
The Export is what evolved into the common Westfalia conversions in years to come.